Sunday 3rd August 2003
from Tokyo to Okinawa
Things that went wrong on the way to Japan:
- The flight I was meant to be on was struck by lightning. So I was put on to an earlier flight, which meant:
- I didn’t get to say goodbye to my family. They’d come to Heathrow to have lunch with me during the three-hour changeover.
- I didn’t get to travel with Kim. The plane journey was going to be the last time we could spend any time together for the next few months.
- The travel agency told me the wrong hotel, so I ended having to lug my luggage for three blocks. To understand how bad a thing that is, you need to know that Tokyo in August is like a very, very hot greenhouse.
Things that went right:
- Got upgraded to first class…
I really only mention these because it seems so typical that a chain of extremely bad and good things should happen as a consequence of an aeroplane – which I never even saw – being struck by lightning.
Wednesday 20th August 2003
Something very, very strange happened today.
I can’t figure out the best way to tell the story so here are an assortment of facts:
- The taiko drumming group I saw accidentally when walking along the South Bank, London, two years ago, and who were so astonishingly good that one of the main things I wanted to do in Japan is to learn taiko… are in fact the taiko group of this island. To fully understand how unlikely this is, you should be aware that the island I live on has a population of about 2000, and that Japan has a population of about 120 million, and that for my job I could have been placed literally anywhere in a country that is getting on for two thousand miles long.
- The leader of the taiko group is in fact my neighbour, Mr. K. That may not be quite so strange, but…
- I discovered facts (1) and (2) when I went round to Mr. K’s, and he showed me the photos he took in London – including some of his group performing on the South Bank. When I first saw the photos I didn’t recognise them as the band I’d seen, but they reminded me about it. Another photograph of a newspaper clipping dated it to a few days before my birthday, in 2001. I realised that it would have been a few days before my birthday that I saw the taiko band, because I visited London for a couple of weeks then. The next photo was of the stage, and the giant flower backdrop suddenly jogged my memory. A couple of photos on, I discovered fact 4, which is perhaps the craziest of all.
- My nearest neighbours on this island have a photograph of me. Taken two years ago. From the stage, Mr. K took a photo of the crowd watching. I knew that I was standing at the back, on the right, and… there I am.
Nuts. Believe it or not, that’s actually the third time in a year and a half that something that strange has happened to (or in close proximity to) me…
Wednesday 27th August 2003
Last night I went for a ride on my bike down to the south edge of the island. A woman saw me running around trying to photograph crabs, and came to talk to me. She was waiting for her husband’s fishing boat to come back in. When he got back she told me to come and take photographs of him. I did, and they gave me these two red fish, which I later ate.
Afterwards, I cycled a little way round the island, and got to the beach (the one in the photos below), where once again I took photos of the sunset. Dig!